Saturday, January 17, 2009

On the 48th anniversary of the assassination of Patrice Emery Lumumba

Patrice Emery Lumumba,
2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961

"We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and free and liberated people everywhere will always be on the side of the Congolese."
----Patrice Emery Lumumba

by Ann Garrison

On Saturday, January 17th, Congolese immigrants, students, and supporters rallied around the world to Save Congo!, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, now also known as Congo-Kinshasa. The Congolese people continue to suffer staggering casualties in the ongoing African holocaust, also known as the African World War, which has cost between five and six million Congolese lives, since 1996, and which continues to cost 45,000 lives a month.

Corporate news outlets including Reuters, the New York Times, and the BBC, have cited these casualty figures ever since a widely respected NGO, the International Rescue Committee, sent researchers into both the cities, and the most remote wartorn regions of Congo, and then concluded, in 2007, that 5.4 million Congolese had died in the Congo War. The International Rescue Committee also says that a third or more of Congo's war dead are children who died of starvation or easily curable diseases like diptheria, because the war has so disrupted indigenous agriculture and health care services, and, created the largest population of internally displaced people in the world.

Today's January 17th rallies, most notably in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Washington D.C., followed by a D.C. forum on Lumumba and the future of Congo, were held on the 48th anniversary of the Belgian and CIA assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of what was then, briefly, called the Independent Republic of Congo, after Congo declared its independence from Belgium, on January 27, 1960.

This week the nation of Belgium formally apologized to the Congolese people, for assassinating Lumumba, who, 48 years after his death, remains one of the most admired leaders in Africa. The United States government has not yet apologized for their collaborating with Belgium in assassinating Lumumba, and for thus truncating Congolese lives and possibilities for the next 48 years. Nor have they withdrawn weapons shipments, military training, or "most favored nation" trading status from Rwanda, Congo's neighbor, even though the United Nations, on December 12th, declared that Rwanda supports the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple, (CNDP), in its war on the Eastern Congolese people, waged in order to smuggle vast Congolese mineral wealth over the Congolese border, for export from Rwanda.

In 2006, Barack Obama won passage of the Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006 , but, though Obama has already promised a Clinton-Bush-Obama Middle East policy continuum, and he has not given any indication that he will break with Clinton-Bush policy in Congo, and neighboring Rwanda, or apologize for the CIA's 1961 assassination of Patrice Lumumba.

His appointment of Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, and of Susan Rice, Bill Clinton's former Secretary of State for African Affairs, as UN Envoy, do not bode well for the Congolese people. But, Congolese activists have rallied nevertheless, to save their homeland, and to call on Barack Obama, who is himself of half-African parentage, to withdraw U.S. military support from Rwanda, and thus help bring and end to the ongoing African holocaust.

I'd like to apologize myself, right now, as a U.S. citizen, for the CIA assassination of Congo's towering leader, Patrice Lumumba, and hope for a larger movement, to apologize, and to end U.S. military intervention in Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, and all Africa.

I'd also like to share this November 27, 2006 KPFA Radio archive on the assassination of Patrice Lumumba:
Africa Today - November 27, 2006 at 7:00pm

Click to listen (or download)

See also Friends of the Congo.

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